Sunday, August 4, 2013

Book Reviews: "Bye Bye, Baby" and Bad Monkey"

Back in May, I wrote about a book, "The Titanic Murders" and its author, Max Allan Collins:

I mentioned in that post how Collins wrote a series of mystery novels that surrounded actual historical events.  Collins is an incredibly prolific writer, and he has another series that features a Chicago based private investigator named Nathan Heller.  I finally got around to reading one of these novels as well. and it's fascinating.

Heller, it seems, always involves himself in cases that involve, you guessed it, actual historical people and events, and the stories are told as first person "memoirs" by Heller himself. The plot of "Bye Bye, Baby" (2011) concerns the events surrounding the death in 1962 of Marilyn Monroe.  Heller, of course, is a fictional character, but this book is populated with real people. In addition to Miss Monroe, you will encounter people like Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Hoffa, Peter Lawford. Hugh Hefner, J. Edgar Hoover, Joe DiMaggio, and, oh yeah, Jack and Bobby Kennedy.

As he did in "The Titanic Murders", Collins spins a yarn that comes up with a somewhat plausible explanation of the circumstances that led to Monroe's death.  The research that Collins had to do to write this book is incredible.  Do I accept it as historical fact?  No, I don't, but it is entertaining, compelling, and maybe, just maybe, events could have happened the way they did in this book.

There are other Heller novels that involve our hero with Al Capone, Elliot Ness, and Amelia Earhardt, and in 2012, Collins published a Heller novel called "Target Lancer" about the JFK assassination.

I plan on reading more of them, and so should you.

I also recently read the newest novel by Carl Hiaasen, "Bad Monkey".

The book opens when a honeymooning couple on a fishing excursion off of Key West hooks, not a game fish, but a human arm.  A Key West detective who is on suspension for assaulting his mistress' husband is told by the sheriff to pawn the arm off on the Miami PD.  Of course, that doesn't happen.....

Sounds crazy, doesn't it?  Not if you are familiar with and a fan of Hiaasen's fiction.  This is no exception.  Strange and goofy characters, hilarious dialog, environmental statements, voodoo curses, a hurricane, a movie star monkey, and lots of oddball romance add up to another winner.  

Read it!

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